ColoradoAvalanche.com is profiling draft-eligible prospects leading up to the 2016 NHL Draft in Buffalo on June 24-25. Jake Bean is the No. 15-ranked North American skater in the NHL Central Scouting’s final rankings. The Avalanche has the 10th overall selection at the draft.
Jake Bean has risen in the rankings as a young, offensive-minded defenseman, proving his worth and capabilities as an undrafted bantam player for the Western Hockey League's Calgary Hitmen the past two seasons.
At 17 years old, he is one of five blueliners to land in the top 15 of NHL Central Scouting’s final rankings and is the highest-rated prospect from the WHL.
Bean’s puck-moving skills and ability to play a smart game gives him the reputation of a complete player, one that teams won’t overlook at the 2016 NHL Draft in late June.
His versatile playing style even hints at his skill to skate on a top D-pairing, a setup that proved lethal during his time with the Hitmen when Bean performed alongside Philadelphia Flyers prospect and like-minded rear guard Travis Sanheim.
The Calgary, Alberta, native had the third most points on his hometown team during the 2015-16 season, totaling 64 in 68 games. He remained consistent in his ability to find the back of the net, finishing second in goals (24), third in assists (40) and second in game-winners (six).
In five playoffs contests, he added two helpers as Calgary fell to the Red Deer Rebels in five games in the opening round of the WHL playoffs.
Bean’s 24 goals set a new single-season record for scoring among Hitmen defensemen, surpassing Paul Postma's mark of 23 in 2008-09. It was also the most by a blueliner in the league.
The sophomore was a solid contributor to Calgary’s power play, collecting 12 goals on the man advantage—tied for the most in the league—and 21 assists this past year. This was a big improvement compared to the 12 power-play points (three goals and nine assists) he tallied in his first season.
“I was really fortunate this year to be exposed to some big opportunities and play in some key situations against some really good players,” he said to the Hitmen's official website about his second season in Calgary. “I think I’ve gained a lot of experience this year, and I’m excited to put it in action.”
Bean’s other accolades included being named to the 2016 WHL Eastern Conference’s Second All-Star Team and representing his conference for the Most Sportsmanlike Player award. He also participated in the CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game on Jan. 28 in Vancouver, British Columbia.
During his first season of major-junior hockey in 2014-15, Bean played in 51 games, recording five goals and 34 assists. He also skated in seven postseason contests and totaled six points (two goals and four assists).
He has also represented Canada in international play, as he was one of 12 WHL players to participate in the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament in the Czech Republic and Slovakia on Aug. 10-15, 2015. Bean helped his country take home its eighth consecutive gold medal, contributing an assist in five outings.
In April, the rear guard was selected to Team Canada’s pre-tournament roster for the 2016 IIHF Under-18 World Championship, but he wasn't able to participate in any games due to a broken foot.
Bean was most recently invited to attend the 2016 NHL Scouting Combine, which will be held at the First Niagara Center and the HarborCenter in Buffalo from May 30 to June 4. This will be one of his final chances to make a good impression for NHL teams.
Coming in at 6-foot and 173 pounds, Bean’s size might be considered a bit smaller compared to other top-ranked defenders. However, this is an aspect he knows he needs to improve on during the offseason.
“For me, I just want to keep getting bigger and stronger, and I think that is really going to help me,” Bean said after the season. “I don’t think you can get too good at any one thing, so I’m going to try to keep on improving my basic skills and just be a sponge and learn from everyone around me.”
Bean knows how big the next few months are for his playing career and is looking forward to staying busy and working to further develop his game.
“I’m going to have some more opportunities next year, and who knows what the summer will bring,” he said about future plans. “I’m just going to try to keep getting better and better. I know ultimately that will help me go wherever I want to follow my goals. There’s always more you can do, so we’ll see what happens.”